ST. LOUIS – Major news Wednesday morning on preventing the thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. The carmakers revealed a software solution to help combat the problem.
The thefts of Hyundais and Kias have become a major issue in St. Louis and around the country. The vehicles are being stolen at alarming rates. The hope now is that this fix can help slow down the thefts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are announcing that Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software and will provide it free to vehicle owners. That software is for millions of Hyundais and Kias which lack a common security device that makes the cars easier to steal.
That device is called an engine immobilizer.
Officials said the solution updates the theft alarm software to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute, and it requires the key to be in the ignition to turn the vehicle on.
The troubling trend of stolen Hyundais and Kias started with a viral TikTok video showing how to break into and drive off in many 2011 to 2021 models of the vehicles.
FOX 2 has spoken with Kia and Hyundai drivers, including one Kia driver named Diane, who shared that someone broke into her SUV and tried to steal it.
For her, this news is long overdue.
“If it’s going to help stop it, yeah, I’m happy. But there’s just so much out there, so I don’t know if that’s going to stop them from trying to break into cars. But they need to try to do whatever it takes, whatever it takes.”
Hyundai driver Michael Johnson added, “I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction. I think it took it probably took a little while to figure out the best solution – but it sounds like they’ve got a plan in place. So unfortunately it affects a lot of people I think, might take a while to get fixed.”
Figures from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch partners showed the dramatic increase in stolen Hyundais and Kias in the area. Thefts of Kias and Hyundais in the city of St. Louis jumped 1,450% last year from 273 to 3,958 after the TikTok video came out. In St. Louis County, the jump was 1,157% from 140 to 1,621.
Installations of the update should begin soon.